Hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy that involves the use of smooth, heated stones. The massage therapist places the hot stones on specific points on your body and may also hold the stones while giving the massage. The localized heat and weight of the stones warm and relax muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure to those areas without causing discomfort.
How Does Hot Stone Massage Differ From Other Types of Massage?
The distinguishing characteristic of hot stone massage is the heated rocks that are used. Basalt stones from river beds are optimal due to their smooth surface and heat retention.
To prep beforehand, the massage therapist will place the stones in a towel warmer or specific stone heater until they are within a comfortable temperature zone, typically between 109 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. (Stones that are too hot may burn the client.)
Some energy-minded therapists will place stones on meridian points to energetically balance the mind and body.
People often describe hot stone massage as extremely comforting and relaxing. The heat is soothing for people who are easily chilled.
The stone’s warmth relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work deeper into the fibrous tissues.
Heated massage alleviates stress and lightens your psyche.
While all types of massage can help relieve pain caused by tense muscles, stiff joints or injuries, a hot stone massage may provide greater relief due to the intense nature of the massage. Because the hot stones allow the massage therapist to penetrate deeper, you will feel physically better than a Swedish or deep-tissue massage where heat is not added. Let your massage therapist know if the stones are too hot or the pressure is too harsh. Massage should be a “hurts so good”, not an “I want to kill my therapist”.
Often, a massage therapist allows the heated stones to rest on trigger points in your body before beginning the actual massage. As the heat from the stones penetrates into your deeper body tissues, your blood vessels open, resulting in improved circulation. Poor circulation leads to fatigue, which tenses the muscles, and a buildup of fluid and lactic acid in the muscles. Increased circulation sends more oxygen to the muscles, which can help aches and pains.
Who Shouldn’t Get a Hot Stone Massage
While hot stone massage is generally considered safe when completed by a trained and licensed massage therapist, it’s not for everyone. Consult your physician if you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, varicose veins, migraines, cancer, autoimmune disease, or decreased pain sensitivity.
Recent surgery or have open bleeding wounds with weakened or warty skin are also contraindicated for hot stone massage.
Pregnant women and children should avoid hot stone massage.
Hot stone massage has continued to evolve with humans, and many massage therapists and spas offering their own versions of the popular massage.
Many people find the warmth deeply relaxing and beneficial for the mind, body, and spirit, and you want to make sure that it’s the right type of bodywork for you, especially if you have a health condition or injury.
Some additional tips:
- Don’t eat before your massage.
- Stay hydrated by drinking water before and after your massage.
- Let your therapist know if the stones are too warm or the pressure too intense.
- See an LMT trained in hot stone massage.
- Complete the intake form in regard to health conditions.
Health Conditions That Hot Stone Massage May Treat
- Muscular aches and pains
- Back pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Circulatory issues
Eric has been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2010. He is an expert healer with an alternative approach, and he is dedicated to helping my clients move through a wide range of physical, emotional, and spiritual transitions in the most efficient and transformative way possible. Now he coaches bodyworkers and health solopreneurs in their journey to fulfillment. Join expert therapists and experience massage community with his Facebook group: The Happy, Successful Massage Therapist.